Post: Readers Respond

How can I express gratitude for the back copies of the Pietisten you sent at the request of Mel Soderstrom. It opened up a world of memories. Pietisten was a publication I had heard about for years, but do not recall reading until one of my neighbors, Mildred Lund, shared her copies. I soon realized that this was not a publication about the older generation, but it was about people I have known along the way.

When the copies came yesterday, I was riveted for a lengthy time. No, these were not people of another generation, but of my own, and younger. For here I met Tom Tredway who came to the Buffalo, New York church when we visited my parents there, and Luke Englund, a NPC classmate, mentored that gifted young man. What North Parker did not call it a privilege to know Carroll Peterson? Then the name of David Hawkinson brought a flood of memories of when Zenos and Barb Hawkinson spent two years in the Youngstown, Ohio church with their young boys before Zenos left Youngstown College to begin his years at North Park, where it had been my privilege to be in his father’s Church History class.

Added treasures over many years come to mind as we read Barb Hawkinson’s tribute. When Bill and I moved to Covenant Village of Northbrook, we joined the Winnetka Church where Jim Hawkinson as the interim pastor.

The tribute to Dorothy Swenson Lindquist reminded me of the strength she and her husband Frank gave to the famous Middle East Youth Conference at Chautauqua Lake before Camp Mission Meadows became a reality. Renewed contact with her sister, Marion and Wayne Pihl, brought greater appreciation for her ongoing ministry.

Art Anderson and Glen Wiberg, men from North Park days, both came to Youngstown, Ohio as pastors during our years there. On to Elder Lindahl of the NPC days. There was Barb Bowman who came with Art as an intern and then interim in First Covenant Youngstown. Another connection is with Ed Nelson, who grew up in Bessemer, Pennsylvania, not far from Youngstown. A number of Florence and Ed’s relatives have been a part of the Youngstown church.

My late husband, Bill, and I have cherished our heritage from our Swedish parents and the Covenant Church in a number of locations and then being a part of Covenant Village of Northbrook in the outreach of its caring ministry. The range of backgrounds in the Village family does remind us that our mission is to encourage them to see beyond the Swedish traditions—the rich ministry of the Covenant Denomination in education, theology, missions, literature, outreach, music, benevolence and service, to a relationship with the God who enables us all to know him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Thanks for “listening;” it gives you the reason I am looking forward to the coming issues of the Pietisten with gratitude for the subscription I now have. Blessings in your continued vision and service for your readers. Gratefully, Doris Storm, Northbrook, Illinois.

Thoughts about Muslims. I have always seen the Sunni-Shia divide as similar to the Catholic-Protestant divide, with the Shia playing the role of the Catholic. The tragic irony for modem Islam was the green light the US gave to Saudi Arabia to firmly establish its presence in Afghanistan as counterpart to the Saudi bank rolling of the Afghan moujhadeen in their struggle against the Soviet Union. Following the Soviet withdrawal, Washington, too, withdrew, leaving the field completely to the Saudis.

Until this time, Whabbism’s efforts had made little headway in the world of Islam. Good Muslims were appreciative of the Saudi money to build a local mosque or school, but the local population continued to go its own way. I saw this in my stays in Mali and Syria. The orphans of Afghanistan were hustled off to Pakistan where an Islamic infrastructure of schools already existed. Grateful for the influx of Saudi money and teachers, these schools for orphans were allowed to go their way by the Pakistani authorities. The result we know well and are paying for.

I continue to contend that the 9/11 tragedy was NOT about religion but about politics, specifically US policy and the Israeli-Palestinian question. The US public cannot begin to understand the depths of antagonism and hate, among Arabs in general and Arab Moslems, aroused by this struggle. Al Jezzera has been in the forefront in its coverage of the savage encounter. Before Al Jezzera, there was little coverage on Arab television beyond the standard, muted assessments, reflective of all parties, Syrian, Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian, not to rock the boat. Al Jezzera landed feet first and loudly, with journalists, on the spot, for the first time. Israeli policy in all its horror and brutality was nightly brought to the Arab world in living, gory color. Nothing like it had been seen before. Washington was outraged; and Colin Powell’s visit to Doha to convince the Qatar Government to pull the plug on the station, is an indication of the danger, correctly perceived by Washington, of its continued existence. The effort met a stonewall.

From the little we know, the men and women who drove those two planes into the World Trade towers were not particularly religious. They were very middle class/upper middle class and very angry. Significantly, most were from Saudi Arabia, a very pro-American country.

But it was the US invasion of Iraq that mobilized the non-Arab Islamic world against the US, as the article rightly points out. But interestingly enough, in article after article and assessment after assessment, barely 3% of the jihadis, in Iraq, are foreigners. 97% are Iraqi citizens of whatever sort. Yes, the invasion of Iraq has drawn terrorists to the country, but they remain a small minority, and I suspect could be rapidly marginalized should some type of national cohesion be achieved. For the moment, it’s the enemy of my enemy is my friend. And the US military presence is perceived as just the biggest of the militias operating in the country.

Whatever changes will come to Islam, will come from inside, much as the Reformation functioned. There are many Islams, and there are many sociocultural norms and customs that have developed over the years, in many countries, that have nothing to do with Islam per se. Islam as a religion is simplicity itself, befitting a Bedouin, desert social structure. Most of the rubbish surrounding the role of woman in Islam, for example, cannot be found either in the Quaran or the Hadiths. In the period of Mohammed, women drove camels. Why, therefore, can they not drive cars. Again, women went into battle with their men, faces uncovered. The Quaran says that man cannot walk on the moon. When men did walk on the moon, the religious authorities said that the statement in the Quaran was just a figure of speech. Change is possible.

I am not optimistic. Iraq has complicated the chessboard, and it is clear that Washington is not prepared to let go definitively. Iraq sits on ten percent of the world’s known oil supply. We will not go gracefully into the night unless we are made to do so. Robert Thompson, New York, New York.

First of all, my condolences. Dorothy Lindquist sounds like someone I would have like to have known. Zenos’ wife, Barbara, always disappeared when any of us neophytes showed up at their home. I remember she left behind some nice treats for all of us while we gabbed late into the evening. Please give David my condolences.

Well, on to the major business of Vol. XXI of Pietisten. Bruce Carlson, editor of poetry & navigation. To be honest, I always thought the “Navigation Editor” to be an in-house joke among the editors of Pietisten. Certainly not to be taken any more seriously than the commercials of “The Museum of the American Outboard” from Deerwood, Minnesota—obviously right next door to “Lake Wobegone.” Tom Tredway as new editor is a welcome addition to your pages and I hope that the whimsical nonsense of “the deep moralism of Wilson’s foreign policy,” etc. is merely a part of the same fabrication.

While we’re on the subject of new editors, I appreciate the addition of Art Mampel as editor of poetry. …Most really good writers do not make good critics and/or editors, but I expect to be reading more of his fresh stuff in your pages.

Oh, and who besides his brother Ed Mampel, “the Fox,” is likely to be sending in poetry as good? One more thing about “The Mamps.” He and I are hard heads—his harder than mine. I remember once when we were very young “The Lad,” as we used to call Art, got down to do straight-legged sit ups with someone sitting on his legs. He got up into the 90s and gave it a rest. I got down to do the same and hit 100, which was impressive to me and those around. But not to “The Lad.” He got down and did 101! Who knows how long that might’ve gone on if I didn’t call it quits right then and there.

Your “Out and About” column was very touching. The thing that really boggles this old head is the planning and organizing Bruce did for his own memorial. I’ve heard of such things before but until this I’d never had the opportunity to witness it. Dennis Jones, Cottage Grove, Minnesota.

Thank you for having directed the remainder of Burton’s subscription for Pietisten to me at my home address. I much appreciate being able to keep abreast of your publication. I now renew for myself.

I appreciated Elder Lindahl’s essay, “The Human Odyssey,” in your current issue. I have long found Erik Erikson’s eight stages of the life cycle helpful in conceptualizing the journey of an individual toward maturity. It not only points the way, but it also helps in discovering where one gets stuck along the way. This helps inform us about how to move forward in development.

I still can be stunned when I reflect on the enormous importance Erikson gives to achieving a healthy balance in the very first stage of the life cycle—in the first 18 months or so of life. If we achieve a robust measure of trust in the world into which we are born (and this is moderated by a bit of mistrust to give us some healthy caution), what emerges for us is the virtue of hope, about which Elder wrote. Erikson wrote, “What begins as hope in the individual infant is in the mature form faith, a sense of superior certainty not essentially dependent on evidence or reason…” (Insight and Responsibility, p. 153).

Elder goes on to relate “beginning-time hope and end-time hope in a temporal-eternal perspective.” This sets me to singing the refrain in the Bonhoeffer hymn: “Surrounded by God’s silent, faithful angels,! We wait expectantly for what may be.! God is with us from evening until morning,! And will remain through all eternity.” Indeed, as Elder concludes, we truly “live by hope from beginning to end.” Peace! L. Grace Nelson, Chicago, Illinois.